Monday, December 10, 2007

The Spotlight

The Bible I study out of is well worn and all the pages have been marked up and written on - part of Exodus is hanging on by a thread, the binding is coming apart and several of the maps have had it. About a year ago, I bought a small Bible to carry to church with me. Alot of Sundays I am by myself with two little boys and it is difficult to carry my study Bible. I bought this cutsie little Bible to make it easier for me on Sunday mornings (and it's my favorite color ORANGE). The first Sunday I used that little Bible I remember thinking that people were looking at me as if I wasn't as 'spiritual' since I had a little tiny Bible that had obviously never been opened. I was actually worried that people would think I don't study my Bible or God forbid that they think I was new to the church! Everyone knows that a worn Bible with lots of hand-written notes means you have a special place in heaven, right? I know it sounds silly, but it is the honest truth and I am ashamed of myself for even thinking that way.

Have you ever known anyone whose greatest desire is to be seen? I am talking about the person who lives to be noticed and thrives on trying to impress everyone. I know several people like that. One person in particular comes to mind and I have to admit, I have some 'not so holy' feelings toward her. This is a person who serves in several ministries of the church, many of which are very public ministries where she can be seen often. I admit that when I see her in the spotlight, I feel as though she is there for personal attention and not to bring glory to God. I will be totally honest, for the past 6 years, I have viewed this person as a complete fake. To make things even worse, the Lord has put us together in several church activities over the years. You have no idea how many times I have come home from church whining because I had to work on a project with her AGAIN. Sometimes I am not amused by God's sense of humor.

It's funny how the Lord will repeat Himself over and over to us until we finally answer Him. I have been really convicted lately because of my feelings about this person because even though I see her as a person who serves to get attention, I do believe she is saved. I believe she is my sister in Christ-- my attention craving, self-serving, 'look at me -look at me' sister in Christ. Anyway, in my Bible study the other day Priscilla Shirer tells of a time when she did something strictly to get the praise of others. Then she asks the question: How do you feel when you see another woman who obviously seeks attention for herself? The next question is: What might the Holy Spirit save us from when He prompts us not to seek attention for ourselves?

When I read the first question, I of course had this same person in my mind - she is someone I see every Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night. As I thought about the answer, the Holy Spirit brought another person to my mind - the person I see every time I look into the mirror.

See, I may not do all the very public things this person does, but I also do things that steal the glory from God. God is not in the glory-sharing business - He wants all the glory. I don't deserve any glory, yet there are times when I have the 'look at me, look at me' attitude as well. I like to have people pat me on the back as much as the next person. The reality is that my flesh desires the glory that belongs to God alone. I wonder if I would be so eager to take a meal to a SS class member, or bring gifts to needy children, or serve in the nursery if no one knew about it. I wonder if I would be so quick to volunteer for jobs in the church (or at my son's school for that matter) if I knew there would be no one there to say 'thank you'.

1 Corinthians 3:3 says, "For you are still controlled by your sinful nature. You are jealous of one another and quarrel with each other. Doesn’t that prove you are controlled by your sinful nature? Aren’t you living like people of the world?" Paul says proof that we are controlled by our sinful nature is that we are jealous and argue with our brothers and sisters in Christ. To that list couldn't we add that another proof we are controlled by our sinful nature is that we steal God's thunder every chance we get? God tells us in Genesis that Eve's desire would be for her husbands position. In the garden, when the snake came to Eve, he tempted her with the promise that if she ate the fruit, she would know everything that God knows. Yep, we glory stealers have a long history. I think when we get to heaven most of us will be eager to talk to our Bible heroes. There will be a long line to get to talk to John and Paul, but I am pretty sure there will be no line to talk to Eve.

I have asked to be forgiven for my terrible thoughts/attitude toward this sister that I have mentioned, because I do believe she is also a child of God. In Acts 9:4 Jesus says, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?" In other words, when you come against God's people, you come against God Himself. So, I think it is important to hold our brothers and sisters in Christ up instead of tearing them down because what we do to our brother, we do to Jesus (and really, haven't we already put Him through enough?). Besides, who am I to judge the thoughts/actions of anyone else? I am the only one who answers for me and I have to remember that if I am going to attempt to do great things for God, my greatest desire HAS to be for Him to be honored. Humility should be the rule of the day every day. After all, I was called to be a servant not a celebrity and I should act accordingly.


Kelly S. said... I struggle with that one. As God is constantly working on me and convicting me of this sin, I recognize it more, but still can't seem to consistantly let my spirit rule in this area. Dang flesh. God just gave me this verse yesterday: Psalm 115.1 Not to us, O Lord, not to us but your name give glory because of your kindness, because of your truth.
What was so amazing to me was that I had been singing that verse in a Chris Tomlin song and just yesterday realized it was scripture. It was like God was really wanting me to get His point on this. I love it when that happens. His word is truley alive and active and is there really anything better than communicating with the Most High God??

Its impossible to fathom the unmerited favor we have been given. Humility is my friend, let me embrace her today!!

ps. I would love to know more about your Priscilla Shirer study. I have not done one of hers, but I saw her at Deeper Sill and loved her!!

BethAnne said...

Hey Kelly! I totally agree that the flesh is hard to tame. The Priscilla Shirer study that I led last was called He Speaks To Me and the one I begin in January is called Discovering the voice of God. The are both awesome studies. Priscilla Shirer oozes Jesus! Love her! You don't live too far from my church (Tri-Cities Baptist) so you could actually come and do the study on Wednesday nights if you wanted to. Her studies are wonderful!

Earen said...

Man, I wish I lived closer & I would come to your Bible Study. Oh, how guilty I am of this at times...doing things for the attention to head my way vs. the Lords. Thank you Lord for your forgiveness to me! Thank you for the reminder to humble myself & be in a constant state of bringing all glory to the Lord & not me.

Kelly S. said...

How sweet of you to invite me to your study!! Unfortunatley, Wednesdays are packed full for us!! I have 3 kids, two girls (9 & 6) and a two year old little boy (that has Down's syndrome). Anyway this is so weird, I think your pastor just did our revival, (Arden Taylor)? I go to East Rogersville Baptist Church.

I definitely want to check out Priscilla's studies. My group is starting Steping Up (Beth M.) in January. We'll have to talk more about it!!

Stephanie (Ocean Mommy) said...

Oh that P.R.I.D.E. I know about this one too. It's funny you used your Bible as an example. Mine is looking pretty worn out so I switched over to a newer one my husband gave me a couple of years ago, I had those same feelings that first week. God quickly showed me that I wasn't all that. :) He's had to do it a couple of other times too!

Awesome post here. Thanks for opening up and being so honest about your struggle here.


I'm Tara. said...

Okay, so when are you moving HERE? :) LOL - I will win, I'm far more annoying than you are and can ask this question many, many times. I mean, it's not like that house is done yet or anything. We've got lots of them here, too.

ANYWAY - -you are SO speaking my language with this one, friend. I mean, really -- what am I thinking? It's not about me. It's about Him. I thought about this very thing this morning as I read the newspaper. I'm sure you heard about the church shootings out here -- the front page had the security guard (a woman) who shot the shooter. They said that she gave God all the credit and glory for her actions. Here's a quote from the story:

"I give the credit to God, and I mean that. I say that very humbly. God was with me, and the whole time I was behind cover — this has gotta be God — because of the firepower he had versus what I had was God," Assam said. "And I did not run away. I did not think for a minute to run away. I just knew that I was given the assignment to end this before it got too, too much worse. I just prayed for the Holy Spirit to guide me. I just said, 'Holy Spirit, be with me.' My hands weren't even shaking."

Okay - is that you? It ain't me, sister. I can tell you right now - I'm not there or even close to being there. And if I did save the day -- I would hope that I'd give God the glory, but can't promise it.

Anyway - just totally took over your blog here, but her testimony was so, so powerful to me this morning and reminded me of what you wrote about here.

Fran said...

Yep, I did the whole smaller, new, cute purple Bible for church only kind of thing....and I felt and thought the EXACT SAME THINGS. Hmmmmmm....we all got some stuff don't we?! Pride is a terrible ugly thing to wear. Yuck.

But, thanks for the good word.
Love, Fran

Earen said...

Yes, I was saying to my husband just yesterday that I'd love to meet you someday. I'd love to attend your Bible Study & you sound like a women so full of the wisdom from the Lord! Maybe when you're in Colorado someday you can tell Tara & I & we can connect!! Plus, I was born in the south & lived there for 10years, so the south is inside of me...a little connection there!

BethAnne said...

Yep, Earen, you can take the girl out of the south, but you can't take the south out of the girl!

I don't know how much wisdom I have (any that I do have comes straight from the Lord trust me!), but I would love to meet you guys in person too. And don't worry, if I am ever in Colorado, you can bet I will be making sure to meet you guys face to face!

Alana said...

ooh, ooh, can I come??? Bethanne, I'm thinking it is totally plausible for us to meet up someday since you are so close to my alma mater and my brother in law and sister in law still live there. And my roomie from college, and...I wonder if we know some of the same people?

Well, I have one of those cute purse sized Bibles. It is red and CUTE. And I think I have a whole other pride issue with my cute litte red Bible, that is just so cute. Wouldn't everyone want one like mine? mmhmm. pride.

BethAnne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
BethAnne said...

Alana, you are definitely invited.

Renee said...

I feel like I stepped into a little party over here!! Woo-hoo!! :)

This is an especially convicting post. I have been re-examining almost everything I do lately, it seems. Trying to figure out what my real motives are. Are they to please me, to draw attention to me, or to glorify God? And more often than not, my priorities need rearranging. AGAIN. It's hard work, being purified. And a daily process. And I am sooooooooo far from perfect that it is humbling to see just how selfish I am.

I remember when I was younger, I always worried about what other people thought of me. Did I offend this person? Did I say the right thing to that person? Do they like me? I always thought I was being so selfless, until my dad told me once "It's not about you...they probably haven't even thought about you." Ouch. But it helped me to see that even though I THOUGHT I was being selfless, being so concerned with myself was selfish.

Self, self, self. Argh!!

Anyway...sorry for the rant. You're gifted!